The online gambling industry is vast, as is the sector of the marketing industry which caters to it.
With the rise of online gambling, the number of pop-ups and TV ads which strive to draw new and existing customers to sites offering slots, bingo, sports betting and casino games such as poker has increased substantially.
In this article, we’ll explore this trend, examine some of the main ways in which gambling operators are reaching consumers, discuss the ethical implications, and speculate a little on what the future has in store.
The audience and content
As with many forms of marketing, accurately identifying the target market and their demographics is crucial.
- Generally, these people are from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, but preferably those who have some disposable income.
- Casinos have a lot of success attracting younger individuals, but the middle-aged market is also large.
- Both men and women enjoy gambling, but their choice of games is different, so some sites may target specific genders depending on their speciality.
- Psychologically, those who attribute things to luck can be profitable customers, and those who exhibit routine behaviour patterns are also desirable.
It’s also important to mention the content of these adverts. Gambling adverts, no matter what medium they are presented through, tend to contain a heady mixture of seasonal events, astoundingly attractive statistics and, perhaps most effectively, bonuses and promotions.
The intensity and competitiveness of the market has produced a progressive and innovative overlap of the gambling and marketing industries.
To many operators, marketing is an essential tool which enables them to stand out from the crowd, attract new customers, and retain existing ones; to many customers, advertising is a delivery system for bonuses.
Consequently, there are many different methods used by operators to push their products and to let customers know about current promos and events.
Content marketing is concerned with the creation and sharing of social media posts, blog posts, infographics, informative articles, videos and more.
These materials are not as direct as many other forms of marketing, but serve to raise awareness of, and drum up interest in, a particular product.
By pushing a product less explicitly, advertisers can avoid jarring consumers, sidestep some of their defences, and provide them with something of genuine value at the same time as drawing attention to products and services such as those offered by the gambling industry.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a practice which aims to improve the visibility of particular materials online, and to draw additional traffic to a particular page.
Good SEO involves the strategic placement of specific keywords to improve rankings on search engines, combined with high-quality content which has genuine value, and on-page optimisation which minimises the number of bounce-backs and boosts retention.
All of these SEO elements apply strongly in the world of online gambling, with search engines being a popular way for consumers to find new games, bonuses and sites.
The value of a great social media campaign cannot be overlooked. Social media feeds into both SEO and content marketing, but also collaborations with industry experts, brand ambassadors, and influencers.
Brand ambassadors can help to portray a business in a positive light, increasing sales, image and customer satisfaction over the long-term. Influencers can direct huge numbers of followers to a particular website or product through their endorsements.
In the online gambling industry, the use of influencers is popular and effective, but this trend has become the subject of debate in recent times, due to the ethical implications of potentially vulnerable people viewing influencer content.
Consumer profile-building, based on the collection of specific data over time, enables the targeted delivery of adverts which are tailored to a player’s needs, desires, online behaviours and personal preferences.
Types of targeted marketing used by the online gambling industry include bespoke messaging and promotions, recommendations based on previous activities, and special offers tailored to the preferences of a particular player.
The incorporation of game-like mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements, loyalty levels and bonus point systems can improve customer engagement and keep players coming back to the same website, rather than visiting competitors to take advantage of promotions.
These systems and methods have gradually been adopted by gambling sites over the years, many of which now offer them in one form or another, providing leaderboard-toppers with extra prizes, and offering rewards to players who engage with loyalty systems.
Customer support and service can also be considered relevant to marketing, and the benefits of great customer service to companies is well-established.
The best gambling sites offer 24/7 support to their customers, assisting with things like banking, glitches, and providing help to those who need it.
Customer satisfaction is closely related to support, and consumers are looking for clear communications from agents, easily accessible chat systems, detailed and maintained FAQ pages, and attentive hosts/moderators in the website’s chat rooms.
When choosing a site, players often compare bingo site reviews, which assess the best providers based on the various types of games they offer, the value of the promotions available, and especially the quality of the customer service.
Customer retention tends to be more cost-effective than attracting new customers to a particular site, which is why providers employ a range of methods to keep their players happy and coming back for more.
Loyalty programmes are those which reward players for returning frequently to the site, or making regular deposits. VIP schemes tend to give high-rollers and loyal players cashback deals or access to exclusive promos, often by climbing a tiered ladder of rewards.
Other rewards commonly used to keep existing players feeling that they are appreciated include free bingo tickets, bundles of free spins, invitations to events, and even bankroll bonuses.
Responsibilities and legislation
The morality of the gambling industry has long been a point of discussion, and when crossed with marketing practices, debates of what is ethically acceptable are sparked. Discussions between the Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Agency have produced legislations to which gambling operators and advertisers must adhere. These rules exist to protect vulnerable players and those who are susceptible to problem gambling, and to promote responsible gambling whilst ensuring that the online casino industry can function properly.
Large-scale reforms of the UK gambling industry are currently underway, and it’s likely that these will, in part, be concerned with acceptable advertising practices, especially where new media, social media, and influencers are concerned. One particular point of discussion is how clear marketers and influencers should have to be about any advertising they engage in.
What the future holds for the marketing of online gambling is uncertain, but it is likely to continue to evolve and adapt as new restrictions are put into place.
Please play responsibly. For more information and advice visit https://www.begambleaware.org